It’s interesting that every major marathon (Berlin, Chicago, London, Boston, and NYC) has had its course record broken in the latest running, but breakthroughs aren’t just happening at the major marathons — they’re happening all around.
Even smaller marathons are seeing near world-record runs, like in Frankfurt this year when the winner just narrowly missed the newly-set world record. We are seeing races being run on all types of courses that we never thought possible. We are seeing minutes taken off records that have stood for 10 to 20 years. It really is incredible to watch and partake in what is happening in the marathon. All of a sudden the question of a sub-two-hour marathon is being asked more and more, when just a few years ago it seemed ridiculous to even mention it. I personally am certain a two-hour marathon is possible. I am also certain it is going to take a very special day in perfect conditions, but I believe it’s coming.
I’m not sure if this is a common reaction to watching someone break through, but my initial reaction is usually discouragement. Initially, I find myself thinking, why can’t I break through like that? Or, I am so impressed by the performance that I think, I will never be able to do anything like that. What I am getting better at (note the word “better”) is turning these discouraging thoughts into positives. I turn my thoughts of envy into thoughts of thankfulness for that person and how they have paved the way for me to enter into that same breakthrough.
There is no better classic example of someone showing everyone around them that something seemingly impossible is possible as when Roger Bannister broke the 4-minute mile. Within months of people around him seeing and hearing that it is possible to run under 4 minutes many more broke the same barrier. Roger paved the way and eliminated doubts in the minds of his peers. In turn, his peers were able to enter into his breakthrough because they now knew with all certainty what was possible. For Bannister to go under 4 minutes it took strong faith to believe he could do it. For everyone else, it took someone else doing it first.
The question then is: Do we have faith, as Roger did, to enter into new breakthrough in our lives? If the answer is no, then at least are we able to look at the breakthrough around us and enter into it? I’m trying to do both at the moment. I really do believe that breakthrough is possible and at the same time I am seeing others break through, which has increased my faith even more.
Now, in training I am expecting more in my workouts and pressing in for more than I ever have before. I am learning to listen and respect my body in every way and at the same time asking it to rise to new levels. With less than nine weeks ‘til the Olympic Marathon Trials, which are on January 14th in Houston, Texas, I am training not harder than before, but with more faith than ever before and believing that Houston is indeed “the land of the breakthrough.” I have gotten many questions about what kind of time do I think it will take to make the Olympic team, or how fast the winner will be, to which I don’t have good answers.
The coming months of training will play a large part in how fast the top three run and then, of course, things outside our control, like the weather, will play their part. But at the end of the day, my feeling is that the top three runners will all experience a sizeable breakthrough. It’s with this goal that I train day in and day out, expecting to be amongst them.
—Ryan Hall, Record-breaking Marathoner